If you're the analytical type, fascinated by the world around you, then an economics major might be a good choice for you. A degree in economics can help you get started in many areas, including public policy and finance.
You can use an economics degree to study industry trends, labor markets, the prospects for individual companies, and the forces that drive the economy.
Top Skills Economics Majors Have
Economics majors learn to gather, organize, and interpret data, using mathematical formulas and statistics to make calculations. They also create models to predict the impact of investments, policy decisions, industry trends, demographics, climate change, and much more.
Although economics majors must be able to analyze problems and propose solutions, success in the field also requires solid communication skills. Individuals working in economics must be able to translate their complex findings into a format that business leaders, legislators, and everyday people can understand.
While graduates with a degree in economics are masters of the chart and graph as tools for summarizing trends and results, the ability to write clear descriptions and present complicated information to others are also vital skills for the economics major.
Given the breadth of the major, there are many possible career choices for people with an economics degree. To choose the right career you will need to consider your other skills, interests, and values.
Here are some job options to consider when you're choosing a career path with a degree in economics.
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts tap knowledge of industry trends to assess how products or services might fare under various economic conditions. Like economics majors, they are trained to design studies and to gather and analyze data. They must be able to quantify results and present this information to clients.
These analysts apply many of the skills that economics majors develop, such as the use of presentation software and graphical representation, as well as writing and statistical skills. They must think critically about products and services and be adept at solving problems.
Salary: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that a market research analyst’s median annual salary was $63,790 in May 2019. The bottom 10% earned less than $34,350 and the top 10% earned more than $122,630.
Job Outlook: The BLS projected that employment of market research analysts will grow 18% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Economic consultants use analytical and research skills to carry out studies regarding economic scenarios. They analyze industry trends to help organizations improve their performance. They might work for organizations in a variety of industries, including business, finance, healthcare, education, the government, and more.
Economic consultants can also act as expert witnesses in legal cases to assess economic damages, analyze intellectual property and antitrust violations, and to address regulatory violations.
Salary: PayScale estimates that the average annual salary for an economic consultant is $76,487. The bottom 10% earn up to $59,000 and the top 10% earn at least $119,000.
Compensation and Benefits Manager
Just like economics majors, compensation and benefits managers must be able to think in numbers, since they evaluate options for pay and benefits. They study trends in the labor market and assess supply and demand for various classes of job.
Compensation and benefits managers research pay and benefits in similar organizations within their industry to establish a competitive structure for their company’s pay and benefits.
They create reports and present their findings to senior management, and might also work with their company's human resources department.
Salary: The BLS estimated that compensation and benefits managers earned a median annual salary of $122,270 in May 2019. The bottom 10% earned less than $69,870 and the top 10% earned more than $208,000.
Job Outlook: The BLS projected that employment of compensation and benefits managers will grow 18% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Actuaries apply advanced mathematical and statistical skills to determine the likelihood of events like fires, deaths, illnesses, and business failures. Like economics majors, they need to consider a great number of variables when analyzing risk profiles to establish a profitable structure for insurance policies.
Actuaries often use software to help with their analyses. They devise graphs and charts to convey their decisions to members of the management team.
Salary: According to the BLS, the median annual earnings for actuaries in May 2019 was $108,350. The bottom 10% earned less than $64,860, and the top 10% earned more than $193,600.
Job Outlook: The BLS predicts that jobs for actuaries will grow at the much-faster-than-average rate of 18% through 2029.
Credit analysts conduct microeconomic analyses of prospective clients to assess the risks involved with loaning funds to those people or businesses. They take into account economic trends and factors impacting the region, industries, and competitors of prospective clients.
Credit analysts prepare reports summarizing their findings and suggest interest rates that are appropriate to clients' risk profiles.
Salary: According to the BLS, credit analysts earned a median annual salary of $73,650 in May 2019. The bottom 10% earned less than $43,430 and the top 10% earned more than $145,840.
Financial analysts research companies, industries, stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles for finance departments. Their analyses often require the advanced quantitative skills possessed by many economics majors.
These analysts often use computer software and models to aid their analyses. They write reports and prepare presentations for colleagues and clients who make the final decisions about investments, stock/bond offerings, and mergers/acquisitions.
Salary: According to the BLS, the median annual financial analyst salary was $81,590 in May 2019. The bottom 10% earned less than $47,230 and the top 10% earned more than $156,150.
Job Outlook: The BLS predicts that financial analyst jobs will grow by 5% through 2029, slighter fast than average for all occupations.
Policy analysts research and analyze issues that impact the public and recommend legislation and government intervention to address the problems. Economic knowledge is critical to understanding many of the issues and for creating affordable solutions.
Economics majors often have the skills needed to analyze issues like healthcare, taxes, energy, the environment, and international trade policy.
Policy analysts rely on strong writing skills to present their research findings and convince legislators and the public of the viability of their recommendations.
Salary: According to PayScale, policy analysts earn an average annual salary of $59,565. The bottom 10% earned up to $43,000, while the top 10% earned $84,000 or more.
Lawyers use critical thinking and analytical skills to prepare and try their cases. Many areas of law such as corporate law, tax law, antitrust law, personal injury, and medical malpractice involve the application of micro- and macroeconomic analysis.
Lawyers draw on research and writing skills to carry out their work. They must gather facts and evidence to support a position. Lawyers must compellingly present their findings to convince a judge, jury, or opposing attorney of their position.
Salary: According to the BLS, the median annual lawyer salary was $122,960 in May 2019. The bottom 10% earned less than $59,670 and the top 10% earned more than $208,000.
Job Outlook: The BLS predicts that jobs for lawyers will grow by 4% through 2029, about as fast as average for all occupations.
Management consultants analyze business problems and research possible solutions to present to clients. New college graduates often start out in positions like research analyst, research assistant, or junior consultant, where they support the work of more senior staff. They can then progress to positions like management consultant.
The economics major provides an excellent background in the financial and quantitative modeling that consultants use to conduct their analyses. Writing and public speaking skills are also necessary when writing reports and presenting recommendations to clients.
Salary: According to the BLS, the median annual salary for management analysts in May 2019 was $85,260. The bottom 10% earned less than $49,700, and the top 10% earned more than $154,310.
Job Outlook: The BLS predicts that jobs for management consultants will grow by 11% through 2029, faster than average for all occupations.
Business/economics reporters research, write and broadcast stories about business leaders, companies, industry trends, economic developments, and financial markets. In essence, they are ongoing students of economics as applied to the modern world.
The curiosity that economics majors often possess about how the economic world functions is essential for success in this field.
The ability to write about economic issues in plain language that the average viewer or reader can comprehend is also vital.
Salary: According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for business reporters is $61,862.